• Ariana Friedlander

Learning to see it

I recently taught myself how to crochet by watching YouTube videos. When I first watched the videos I thought it looked so easy. But when I started to crochet it didn't turn out the way I had expected and I couldn't see what I had done wrong.


So I kept pulling the yarn apart and trying over and over again. For a while, I was clueless as to what a stitch looked like and the first project I completed (a cat toy) had some gaping holes in it.


After a while,

I found my rhythm. I'd watch a video, crochet while watching the video (at half speed), then crochet on my own. If it didn't turn out the way I expected I would look it over to identify something I could try differently next time before tearing it apart and starting over again.


The more I practiced, the better I got at seeing the details in my work and being able to know the mistake I was making that caused it not to look right. My work started to look like what I saw on the videos. What's more, I could look at other pieces of crocheting and identify the stitches.

Whenever we are acquiring a new skill, so much of it is a matter of learning how to see things differently. Often, in the beginning, we are quick to overlook things that later become obvious to us. I experience this anytime I do a training on Conversational Intelligence.


As I describe triggers and patterned threat responses there are usually at least a few people in the audience whose eyes glaze over when I ask if they can recall a specific conversation they had where someone was triggered. Their heads nod when I tell stories that illuminate these moments, they get it on a deeper level. But they can't yet see the details playing out in their own life.

One time I did a training and Bob was a real skeptic. He was constantly challenging and doubting everything I shared. What I was offering was a completely different way of looking at interactions from how he had always seen them - he viewed the world in black and white. You were either good or bad, smart or stupid, right or wrong.


The next time I saw Bob he exclaimed, "this stuff really does work."


The evening after the training he went home and his teenager got triggered at dinner. Empowered with a new way of looking at the situation, he began to see the subtle shades of gray. Instead of arguing, he practiced two Conversational Essentials, Listening to Connect and Double Clicking. That moment fundamentally shifted the dynamics of their relationship for the better.


Bob learned how to see his interactions in a new way. With that awareness, he was better able to show up as the parent and manager he wanted to be. It was something that had alluded him for a long time because he didn't know how to see the subtleties and nuances occurring in his interactions that were persistently holding him back before the training.


If you've been feeling stuck or frustrated dealing with a difficult situation in your life or at work, it could be that you need to learn to look at it a little differently. You might consider looking at it through the lens of a new skill or concept that you've recently learned. To ask yourself a question like, how could this new idea change the way I see this situation?


The beauty of this approach is multi-faceted. By being open to new ways of seeing things and asking yourself open-ended questions you are engaging your prefrontal cortex. The vast majority of the time we feel stuck in difficult situations it is because our brain is literally stuck in a patterned threat response where the primitive brain is running the show. By seeking a new way of seeing things we are interrupting the pattern and enabling our true potential to shine.

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